It happened to Xerox and recently to Google, and next in the line is ‘wikileaks’ which has joined the list of proper names that are common enough to enter the English language as their own word. Texas-based Global Language Monitor said the website WikiLeaks, which has publicly released thousands of confidential US government documents, has been referred to by so many people that it has met the criteria of reach, depth and breadth to be considered its own word.
“Wikileaks joins a number of new media and high technology companies whose names and functions are being incorporated into the language,” said Paul JJ Payack, who heads Global Language Monitor (GLM). “These include Google, Twitter and the ‘friending’ function of Facebook.” GLM’s research shows the word first appearing in global media in 2006. It has now been cited more than 300 million times. The group’s standards include a minimum of 25,000 citations in English-speaking media.
Payack said as a word, wikileaks is spelled without the capitalised W or L, but when referring to the website, the spelling remains WikiLeaks. It is similar to when Google is used as a verb, as in “googled,” or searched, for a subject. His group, which focuses its research on the use of English words in the media, recently said “spillcam,” a reference to the camera videotaping oil gushing from the BP oil well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, was among the top words of 2010.